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Old 02-06-2013, 02:31 PM   #1
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New Aquarium-looking for advice

New tank owner looking for advice since our tank was not set up properly. We have10 gal tank, have had tank about a month now (set up in early Jan- was a Christmas gift for 9yr old daughter) Typical newbie mistakes, took word of people at Petco who said to put water in tank to cycle it (not knowing what that really meant), wait a week, and add fish. Most of the fish died. They neglected to tell us to add a pinch of food to the tank AND to check levels of ammonia, nitrites, etc before adding fish. They told us what products to get and it sounds like ammonia is the biggest thing to watch for -nothing was mentioned about it, and it is not listed as something that is tested on the test strips (I now know those are crap, and am getting the API liquid test kit) I was using the test strips and the Nitrites were high (bright pink), I thought thatís what killed the fish, but as I kept reading, am figuring out itís likely the high ammonia levels.

Desperately trying to save fish still have. Currently we have 1 guppy and 4 neons. (only 2 of neons are original fish started with- but trying not to be too long winded- that's a separate story) After spending about a full day hovering on boards and trying to educate myself (I had no idea it was so complicated) I went and got an ammonia test kit, and it was sky high (4.0- dark/bright green). I now think the fish died of ammonia poisoning. How long does it normally take for tank to fully cycle? It sounds like it could take 4-6 weeks before we should have added fish. If the idiots at Petco had of told us, we would have patiently waited and let it cycle before adding fish. In the past couple days I have done 1/3 water changes each day (using the vacuum pump thing) and added Seachem Prime to tank (more than the dosage for the 10 gal since the reading was so high). I read that the ammonia will still read high, because it just converts it to a nontoxic form. When/how do I know I can/should stop changing the water daily and adding Prime Ė so the remaining fish donít die? We also got an air pump to increase oxygen since it sounds like it may or may not help a lot, but cant hurt. I also got something (donít remember brand) to add beneficial bacteria to tank.

Iím not sure how to proceed. It would have been way easier if they would have told us and we could have cycled the tank and had all the readings be at acceptable levels before we put fish in, now I feel it makes it that much harder since I donít want them to die. How often should the filter be changed? My husband replaced it the other day already, but it sounds like that might not have been a good idea, since that helps build the beneficial bacteria??
Any helpful advice and tips would be appreciated.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:44 PM   #2
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You are on the right track with getting educated. Up your water changes to 50 percent a day. Get the api when you can. Leave the filter cartridge alone till you have cycled. If you don't have decor go get something because the BB will grow on that as well which will help later when you do change filter cart. Ignore all advice from petco idiots they are wrong more often then right as you found the hard way. Sorry it started rough but once you get the hang of it it is allot of fun!!!
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:51 PM   #3
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Like stated above you'll need to do daily water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrites down until its cycled. There's some pretty good articles on this site about "fish in cycling" since that's what you're going through now. Sorry I don't have the links since I'm replying on my phone.

You'll know when your tank is cycled once your ammonia and nitrites are 0. You'll have some nitrates show up (nitrites and nitrates, confusing right?) as time goes on indicating your tank is converting the ammonia into less harmful stuff.

Having to change water everyday does take some of the fun out of it initially. But once its cycled it'll be worth it and you'll actually get to enjoy your fish.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:51 PM   #4
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:57 PM   #5
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Oh and yes you don't need to throw away your filter pad each cleaning. Depending on the type of filter you have most people will just swish the pad or sponge around in some dechlorinated or old tank water to remove the bigger clumps of poop and stuff and then put it back in until its disintegrating. If its getting old a lot of hobbyists will put new filter media in the filter with the old one to "seed" it with bacteria before tossing the old one so you're not necessarily starting from scratch.

If you want a little head start you can try to ask a friend or relative who has a tank for some old filter media or even a handful of gravel or decoration to help introduce beneficial bacteria to your tank. You don't need to do that but it sometimes help knock time off cycling.

Hope that helps.
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Old 02-07-2013, 12:26 PM   #6
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Thank you all who have replied for your help. Did a 50% water change and added Prime again. Ammonia and nitrites are still high, but lower than yesterday. Will keep doing same daily until read zero.
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Old 02-07-2013, 02:34 PM   #7
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Good! Keep us posted!
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:00 PM   #8
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Double 50% water changes wouldn't be a bad idea. Up the heat, because that help bacteria grow also, like up to 82 or so.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:46 PM   #9
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Scotty, on that small of a tank it wouldn't be to much of a change and shock the fish?
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Old 02-09-2013, 09:40 AM   #10
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Hi and welcome to AA!

First, try checking your tap water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. This will give you an idea of what you're starting with (some water might contain some ammonia, etc, so it's good to know what you're putting back into the tank when you change water).

Ideally you want to keep ammonia and nitrites <.25; if levels are high, this might mean doing a few 50% water changes in one day to get those levels down. Here are two links for you that might help:
I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?! - Aquarium Advice
Guide to Starting a Freshwater Aquarium - Aquarium Advice

As for the media, don't touch it. You don't want to change filter media unless it's literally falling apart and even then you only change a small portion at a time. What filter does the tank have?
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